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Changes to Partner and Prospective Marriage visas

Over the years, there have been some significant changes to Partner and Prospective Marriage visa applications… and the most significant changes are about to come in 2018!

18 November 2016

From 18 November 2016, sponsors of these visa applications will need to:

  • Provide Australian and/or foreign police checks from every country the sponsor has resided 12 months or more after the age of 16; and

  • Consent to the Department of Home Affairs (Department) disclosing their convictions for relevant offences to the visa applicant(s).

Failure to provide the police checks within reasonable time or failure to give consent to the disclosure of the sponsor’s offences may result in the Department not granting the visa.

18 November 2017

As of 18 November 2017, all Partner and Prospective Marriage visa applications must be submitted online. All paper applications for these visas, which are received by the Department after this date, will be invalid and returned to the applicant.

In 2018

The biggest change to Partner and Prospective Marriage visas is, however, about to happen when the Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2016 is enacted. The Bill is currently debated in the House of Representatives.

The Bill places more focus on the assessment of sponsors, including the following:

  • Separate sponsorship assessment from the visa application process for family sponsored visas;

  • Require the approval of persons as family sponsors before any relevant visa applications are made;

  • Impose statutory obligations on persons who are or were approved as family sponsors and provide for sanctions if those obligations are not satisfied;

  • Facilitate the sharing of personal information between parties identified in a sponsorship application;

  • Enable the refusal of a sponsorship application and the cancellation or barring of a family sponsor in certain circumstances;

  • Enable the regulations to prescribe details for, and in relation to, the operation of the sponsorship framework; and

  • Make consequential amendments.

If the Bill is enacted it means that the sponsorship applications must be approved before the visa applications can be lodged. There is no information, as of yet, as to the estimated timeframe for processing the sponsorship application. However, it is feared that this will create more delays in the visa application process which can cause problems to visa applicants who hold short term visas.

There is currently also no information available if these changes will have any effect on the visa application fee.

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